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Top 10 Tips for Your Day at the US Open in Flushing Meadows

For First-Timers at the US Open and for Flushing Meadows Pros

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Make your day at the US Open more fun by following these simple tips.

1. Take the Subway - Take the LIRR - But Whatever You Do, Don't Take Your Car

The 7 runs to Flushing Meadows
Photo (c) John Roleke
Trust me. You don't want to drive to the US Open. Driving is a headache. Parking is expensive ($15) and far from the Open, and the traffic can kill your swinging mood.

The #7 subway is cheap ($2) and stops a short walk from the US Open. So does the more expensive LIRR (Long Island Railroad). The advantages of the LIRR over the subway are the set schedule, comfier seats, and faster trip from Manhattan's Penn Station.

2. Love the Ground Pass Tickets for the Best Value at the US Open

Want to be close to the action? You aren't you going to get that in Arthur Ashe Stadium unless you have a corporate connection or big bucks. You're better off skipping the expensive upper tier at Arthur Ashe (and its infamous poor views) and getting a grounds admission pass during the first week of the US Open.

Grounds admission lets you see matches at Louis Armstrong Stadium, the Grandstand ,and all of the up-close-and-personal field courts. Who plays there? Some of the best. On the first day of the 2007 US Open with a grounds pass you could have seen: Nikolay Davydenko (4), Marion Bartoli (10), Marcos Baghdatis (18), Tomas Berdych (9), and Tommy Haas (10).

The grounds pass is best the first five days of the Open.

3. Don't Bring a Bag

US Open Crowd at East Gate
Photo (c) John Roleke
No bags, no purses, not even a paper bag with your takeout lunch. The security lines for folks with bags were insane last year. If you don't bring a bag, then you can get on a separate line that moves a lot faster.

4. Enter by the South Gate

US Open South Gate
Photo (c) John Roleke
The morning lines at the East Gate, right off the subway/LIRR, are the longest and slowest. Walk around the crowd and to the South Gate, which is directly in front of the Unisphere.

5. Wear Sunglasses

Dang that sun is bright, and there isn't a lick of shade at Flushing Meadows. Want to follow the match? Visitors are highly advised to bring their own pair of sunglasses, lest you feel forced to fork over your Christmas bonus in advance for a fancy pair at one of the many US Open shopping kiosks. (A hat and sunblock will also make you happier.)

6. Save Money by Eating Outside the US Open

Hot dog cart in Flushing Meadows
Photo (c) John Roleke
$5.25 for a hot dog, $16.50 for burger, fries, and drink? Ouch! Instead, get your hand stamped, and step outside the Open for late lunch off a hot dog cart in Flushing Meadows Park for half the price. There are carts immediately outside the East Gate, or near the Unisphere out the South Gate.

Or walk farther in the park toward the soccer fields, and you'll find a couple Ecuadorian and Peruvian snack carts for even less money.

Or eat on your way to the Open or on your way home by subway to train.

Families (and anyone frugal) can pack sandwiches and bring them inside, but you'll have to wait in the longer line for bag check.

7. Don't Be a Rube

Rubes at US Open
Photo (c) John Roleke
The folks in this photo are watching a practice session from the stands of a live match. That's just obnoxious.

The US Open is a crowded, busy place, especially the first week. Everyone wants to the superstars, but all the players at the Open are exceptional athletes, deserving of our attention.

8. The West Side Is the Best Side

On a sunny day, the Open can feel overrun with people. Head to the West Side, away from Louis Armstrong Stadium, and you'll find less crowds and more chances to see great tennis at the field courts.

9. Dress for the Weather

Wear a hat, sun screen, sun glasses, and loose clothes. If the weather report says anything about possible thunderstorms, pack an umbrella for these short monsoons (or to keep the sun off). And keep hydrated in the heat.

The New York summer is hot and humid.

  • August Averages - High 83°F (28°C) - Low 69°F (21°C)
  • September Averages - High 76°F (24°C) - Low 61°F (16°C)

You may catch shade at Arthur Ashe Stadium (except on the north side), but don't count on it to last. The field courts are all about hats. At night it'll cool, but not as much as you would like. Thunderstorms are a real possibility.

10. See All of New York City at a Glance

Panorama of New York City
Photo (c) Courtesy Queens Museum of Art
Too worn out from a day at the Open to see New York? All you have to do is walk seven minutes to the Queens Museum of Art and see the whole of NYC in a room. The Panorama of New York City is a huge, scale-model replica of the city and it's free for your viewing pleasure during the Open.
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